Venus turns retrograde this Saturday. If you are familiar with the concept of Mercury retrograde, you know that it often a time when communications and agreements and short trips can go screwy for no good reason. But what happens when the planet that most represents the concept of love goes retrograde? Will our relationships go horribly wrong? Will our attempt to find love in the first place be doomed to failure? Why is my ex drunk-dialing me so much?
Not so fast there. There is hope.
First of all, I think it’s important to note that a further a planet is from the Sun, the longer its retrograde periods last. Pluto goes retrograde for months and months at a time without too much obvious effect. And I personally think that the further a planet is from the Sun, the less hazardous its retrograde periods are.
Nevertheless, traditionally astrologers would tell you that it’s a bad idea to get married or start a new relationship during a Venus retrograde, and that existing relationships are more likely to screw up. It would probably be more accurate and useful to say that during Venus retrograde, one should study and contemplate on these matters before one takes action. Yes, I believe a person can get married during Venus retrograde… but the other transits should probably be really good. Yes, one can start a new relationship during Venus retrograde, but you might want to put a little thought and caution into the matter before you hand over your heart or the key to your place.
There is a word that appears over 70 times in the Bible that has no confirmed exact translation: selah. It’s used mostly in Psalms, and may very well be some sort of musical notation. There is another interpretation of the word that I prefer. It is “pause and consider.”
When it comes to matters of the heart, I believe Venus Retrogrades are the ideal time to try to understand love and affection — what makes it work and where it breaks down. Selah.
That’s why I am teaching an online course about the astrology of love and compatibility starting this Saturday, when Venus goes retrograde (want details on how to join? Write me for details!) It is the ideal time to sit back and be mindful and pay attention to these things.
So: just like you shouldn’t automatically assume your emails will mess up during Mercury retrograde, you shouldn’t worry too much about the state of your love life when Venus is going backwards. But: be mindful of where and how and who you love, or would like to, or of the love you want but haven’t found yet.
An astrological forecast isn’t just a diktat from the heavens as to how your life has to be. It’s a weather report, and if you understand it you can use it to your best advantage. And when Venus is retrograde, if you are paying attention, it can do your love life much more good than any other time when Venus is traveling along normally. The choice is yours.
I have some important news to break to you. The world is not in fact round. It’s not flat. The world is square.
Okay, admittedly, it’s more rectangular than actually square, but it is defined by 90 degree angles. Think about it: think about how much time you spend on your phone or your computer or looking at a television or a movie screen. Think about how much time you spend reading books. Think about how much time you spend looking out or into windows. Look at the walls around you at home. No matter where you go, your world is delineated and contained and constrained by 90 degree angles.
In astrology, two or more planets separated by approximately 90 degrees are said to be in a square aspect to each other. It is commonly accepted that of all the aspects, the square is the most challenging. With a square between two planets, there is frustration and anger and friction and tension. The two planets are working at cross purposes to each other. But when handled properly, you’d be surprised at how useful that sort of thing is. The real trick, of course, is handling it properly.
Everywhere we look, our world is divided into the people who agree with us and the people who are idiots… or so we like to think. Those lines intersect but they are never parallel. We know what’s right and we argue about it on Facebook and Twitter, and the people who reflexively disagree with us argue back. No ground is given or gained. Nothing is resolved and no minds are changed. Am I right?
Squares provide energy to a personality. They can be the great driving force behind one’s life. Conjunctions are usually too focused on whatever they want to pay attention to anything else, or whether getting that thing it wants is worth the damage. Sextiles are delightful and creative and charming but tend to be lazy and useless on their own. But the squares? Squares demand answers from ourselves and from our lives. And those answers are rarely easy.
One year ago today, I watched a man on the street being choked to death by a police officer. There was anger and protest and lawsuits and such, but what really came of it? The family was compensated for their loss in the only way our world knows how to — in cash. As for the guy who choked the life out of Eric Garner? You know, the guy with those previous complaints against him? He got reassigned to a desk job, but he’s hoping to return to active duty soon. Happy Anniversary!
As we get older and wiser, it seems that are squares are easier to cope with in a constructive manner. Either that or we learn how to ignore them or avoid them or work around them. Either way, there’s a case to be made for squares getting easier to deal with as life goes on.
One year on, how much has the death of Eric Garner really changed things? It may have raised awareness of some important issues with some people, it may have made for some small difference, but the last time I looked terrible injustices like that were still happening. Maybe I’m just not old and wise enough to have incorporated that day into my persona yet, but I’m still angry. And to tell you the truth? For all the times I still stop and pause and stare off into space to recall that day, you’d think if it was going to do me some good it would have by now.
Maybe I’m just not old and wise enough yet. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.
The squares drive us. The square makes trouble and raises questions and rattles cages and confronts us with situations we would probably rather not face. As the old saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The squares your birth chart are the most painful steps we must take. And although we might consider them the “worst” of the astrological aspects, perhaps sometime… perhaps after a lifetime of labor and understanding and stupidity and argument and heartbreak… they can make for real change. This, in the long run, may make them the best of all aspects.
Yet somehow it’s like there’s always one more river to cross, isn’t there?
I admit it: I was a fat kid. Like, really fat. Anyone who’s been in that position themselves can tell you that childhood obesity is a lot more complex than most people realize. It’s usually far more than just “too much of the wrong food” or “not enough exercise” or something. Obesity is a complex issue, and if you’re lucky and get wiser you get older you realize that simple solutions to complex problems are usually wrong. But one thing I do know about my experience s a fat kid? There was always plenty of food around my house, often of dubious nutritional content, and I spent a lot of time unsupervised in the kitchen.
The sextile is an aspect between two or more planets separated by approximately 60 degrees. It indicates that the energies of the planets involved will be able to work together in a fairly smooth and harmonious manner: never rushed or impulsive or demanding. It’s almost as if the planets involved in the aspect never really disagree and seem to have all of the same hobbies, but aren’t necessarily compelled to spend every waking minute talking to each other. It’s like they’re two old friends and think the same way and hope for the same things and vote the same way, but often drift out of touch with each other. But when they get back in contact a good time is had by all.
The thing that fascinated me most about the kitchen when I was a kid was the Lazy Susan. For those of you and me with the concept, a Lazy Susan is a round shelves that turns on an axis on a tabletop, or a series of round shelves turning on an axis in a cupboard. That way, you can put a lot of goods into the pantry without having to spend a lot of time digging around in the back for something you’re looking for. It’s like a merry-go-round for food, and if you are an unsupervised fat kid who is bored, you can spend a lot of time standing there and turning it and watching the food go around and around and trying to see if there is something tasty there.
Sextiles are a great thing to have in your birth chart. They aren’t as demanding and difficult to deal with as the squares can be, and they’re not as brash as a conjunction or as vexing as an opposition. People with Venus sextile Ascendant, for example, come across as naturally charming without putting much work into it. People with Moon sextile Mercury generally come across as effortlessly bright, and people with Mars sextile Neptune are usually pretty charismatic even when they aren’t trying to be. If you have a birth chart that somehow consisted entirely of sextiles, your biggest problem in life would probably be a lack of excitement or sense of adventure. More than anything else, the sextile provides opportunities. They give you a natural talent or ability or gift that is there for you to take advantage of, but only if you make the effort. They’re worth your attention, but they don’t demand it.
Because I was such a fat kid, my parents didn’t usually do things like leave big bags of cookies lying around. Of course sometimes they did, and they hid them, and I (being a motivated fat kid who loved a challenge) develop a fair talent for finding them. But the place wasn’t exactly overflowing with food that said “a fat kid lives here.” But on those long and boring Saturday afternoons, after the cartoons were done and Mom was off doing her thing somewhere and Dad was out drinking with his buddies, I would often rummage around the kitchen looking for this week’s stash of cookies. And if I didn’t find them (or if there wasn’t one) I would turn to the Lazy Susan and meditate upon its contents as I turned it slowly around over and over again. And sure enough, I would often find things like brown sugar and baking chocolate and vanilla. Neither one of those were particularly tempting food in and of themselves, but at an early age I had learned that most of life’s best foods were made from combining ingredients and applying heat. So sure enough, I would attempt to make some fudge. It didn’t usually turn out right, but I’d eat it anyway and get my mess cleaned up before Mom and Dad came home. These secret food sessions always came as a great relief to me — because after all I was sick and tired of the rice cakes and diet food and such they were always trying to feed me at dinner.
So yes: the sextile is a good and useful and welcome aspect to have. It can be a real strength. But if you don’t do anything with it, it won’t end up doing a whole lot for you. And if left entirely to its own devices, a sextile or two can actually lead you down the sweet and pleasant path to self ruin.
In astrology, a conjunction is an aspect between two or more planets placed very closely together in the sky, like the recent Venus-Jupiter conjunction that everyone got excited about. How close together is a matter of debate among astrologers, but for my money I stick to within five degrees… unless the Sun or Moon are involved, in which case I’ll give it ten degrees. The amount of allowable distance is called “orb”… and personally I’m stingy with it.
The conventional wisdom about the conjunction is that it represents a blending of the energies of the two planets involved. Like many simple explanations, this captures a fair amount of the truth and yet kind of misses the point. When you combine sodium and chlorine, which are respectively flammable poisonous, you get salt — which is neither flammable nor poisonous. The planets involved in a conjunction retain their inherent nature and functions, but they also tend to take on qualities from the other planet(s) involved. It’s kind of like when you put two things next to each other in the fridge for a long time and they take on each other’s smell and flavor (sorry about the onion milk by the way).
The nature of each planet in astrology is quite different, and when you combine two very different things you can get some interesting results: sometimes useful and sometimes not so much.
On the one hand, consider the mule, which is what you get when you cross a horse with a donkey. Mules are more patient and better at handling rugged terrain than horses, and they’re smarter and faster than donkeys… and less obstinate as well. On the other hand, did you ever see The Fly? Yeah, you would think that combining the mind of a genius inventor with the durability of an insect would be awesome, kind of like Spider-Man, right?
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I know I picked on overly-simple explanations earlier, but let me try to come up with something relatively simple that still conveys the meaning of the conjunction.
If you want to know the effects of a conjunction between any given two planets, use the following handy guide.
Take the description in column A and the adjectives in column B below.
Pick a conjunction between any two planets, or a planet and an angle. Select the description in the left column and combine it with the adjectives in the right column.
Ego energy and life force
Brash and energetic
Basic emotional responses and gut instinct
Moody and / or nurturing
Thoughts and communication
Bright, chatty and scattered
Affection and comfort
Sweet and sticky
Ambition and anger
Energetic and punchy
Happiness and philosophical approach
Big and goofy
Structure and limitations
Stiff and unyielding
Individuality and uniqueness
Weird and unusual
Mysticism and sense of wonder
Weird and spacey
Transcendence and resilience
Powerful and / or dangerous
Appearance and general demeanor
Out there where everyone can see it.
Closest friends and partnerships
Projected or reflected on others.
Life goals and what you want to be when you grow up
Is what the general public will remember you for when you’re gone
Your base of operations and comfort zone
Where you’re most comfortable hanging your hat at the end of the day
So for example: Mars conjunct Saturn means that “Your ambition and anger is stiff and unyielding.” Venus conjunct the Ascendant means “You affection and comfort is projected or reflected on others.” Jupiter conjunct Neptune means “your happiness and philosophical approach is weird and spacey.”
Got that? Go through the conjunctions in your chart and give it a try.
And hey: yes, you’re absolutely right. That is a bit of an oversimplification. But it makes at least a little more sense than just saying “the two energies are blended,” doesn’t it…?