Currently Venus, the planet of sensual pleasures, material wealth, beauty and relationship is retrograde, shifting its course and looking to us as if it is receding. This may feel like troublesome longings for past relationships, obsessing over if the person you are currently with is right for you or not and for some, it may feel like nothing has changed. These experiences, varied in complexity and impact, are all valid. This is because a retrograde is not a broad-stroke experience but instead a time for a nuanced perspective on our own relationships to progress.
From Saturn to Mars, all planets have the ability to retrograde, to appear to the Earth as backwards-moving. But this is an Earth-based perception, a time characterized by our unique vantage point, it is not a definitive story of the retrograde experience.
You might try to call your ex, leave your relationship, leave your job, start a new one or freeze from fear of change. Regardless of your particular instinct, the thru-line is a perception of progression. You may want to leave your job because you want to “move forward” or because the job is “holding you back.” You may feel the same about your relationships. These feelings do not come directly from a planet’s motion, but instead the motion triggers our individual notions of how far we have come and how far we are from where we want to be.
Nevertheless, it is not a time to act, but to notice.
If you are feeling nostalgic for a fizzled romance, what are you actually feeling nostalgic for? Being loved and cared for? Having someone to talk to? Getting free food? If the answer falls along the lines of reminiscing about things this person (or people) provided you rather than the people themselves, this is important to notice. Longing to get specific needs met from a past relationship, job or otherwise connection tells you what your needs are, not that the things you rightfully disconnected from deserve any more of your time. Venus retrograde does not want you to get a snarky text back from your ex reminding you of why you ended it, it wants you to think about why you want to send the text, what you are hoping to receive.
To retrograde is to retrace, not to regress. Our job right now is to allow the pain, joy and frustration of the past to take up space in ways that provide confirmation of how far we have come. A retrograde encourages us to go back only in order to salvage the things that were swept up in the wave of loss that will inform the intelligence, maturity and authenticity of our futurity. The returning ache from past pain is not silly or naive but nor is it coincidental. If you are in a state of recollection, view it as informative and forward-thinking, remembering that the only way to move forward is to trudge through what you are dealing with now. Fresh thoughts on stale experiences exist in the present for a reason, and to shrug them off should only be a response that occurs after a recognition that you were carrying them on your shoulders.
We only carry baggage if it still useful to us and it is our job in this time to analyze what about our pasts propel us forward. Wanting physical affection from you last partner(s) informs you of how important touch is to your happiness, not that particular people need to repeat this action to satisfy you. This information can now push you to vocalize that need among the people you already have in your life and the ones to come instead of pushing you to reconnect with someone you intentionally distanced yourself from. Venus retrograde is a magical time for the alchemical transformation of regret into manifestation. To turn “I no longer have” to “this is what I need.” To engage in re-framing the conversation is to redefine the confinement of the present and to interact with the past in a new way.
In the West, the way we perceive time and progress is through forward-motion. We understand history as behind us and the future as ahead. Our decisions are future-minded and we think from start to finish, from left to right. This thinking omits the ways in which our past traumas and lessons learned are some of our greatest assets. It ignores the cyclicality of life, that our pasts always inform and often repeat in our futures.
We often forget that even things perceived as linear will always be attached to their source.
Astrology reminds us of this, that the universe is cyclical, that matter is not created or destroyed. Every New and Full moon we are not working with something structurally different but are instead just presented with new opportunity. This is also the lesson of a retrograde. We are the same physical being that we were in the past, only our circumstances have shifted around us. It only makes sense that we still hold attachments to what came before. Only asking why we dwell on the past weakens the power that we now have to shift our relationship to times engrained in our memory.
Venus is the same planet, regardless of its motion. It concerns our relations, our ability to create and sustain pleasure and stability. It does not serve us to characterize cosmic events in static notions of progress. It is useful to instead recognize a retrograde as a time to slow down. To allow former iterations of various relationships to meet us where we are. To greet them with the knowledge that we now decide the weight of their burden. We must acknowledge our strength and persistence through those times as growing pains and as foundational to the structures we now inhabit.
To let go during a retrograde is a slow-release, a meditation on moving on, a lesson in the medicine of mutability. The trick is to practice this with the knowledge that what you cast away may never stop coming back to you. The goal must not be to get rid of the things that haunt you but to change your relationship to them. To contextualize the return of old feelings, desires and memories as an opportunity to reflect. Venus Retrograde is but another cycle. It is up to you to decide to either ride the wave or get swept up in possibilities of what was and what could be. What could be is always up to you, and it often has little to do with the places, people and things of the past but more to do with your role within them. To follow in the footsteps of Venus is to relate, not to react, and at this time, more satisfaction will come from trying to understand and integrate than from trying to rectify or convince anyone but yourself that they are worthy of all you have to offer.